This week is the fourth week of the Lent Retreat in Daily Living I’m offering at UST and at St. Hubert’s. During our gathering today, we had an extended discussion after our period of small group sharing, leaving very little time for me to speak about the subject of this week’s prayer – The Seven Sorrows of Mary.
The discussion was useful, however. One of the things that surfaced was the difficulty a couple of people had in putting aside sufficient time for prayer each day, leading to feelings of guilt. For one person, it appeared that the idea of sitting down to pray for 30 minutes seemed so daunting that it kept her from praying at all. So she kept putting it off and a time to pray never happened.
While it would be wonderful if retreatants could all pray each day for an extended period, my suggestion was to pick an amount of time that didn’t seem daunting to her, even if that was 10 minutes and to try to do that every day, without guilt that it wasn’t longer. In my view, the most important thing is to develop the habit of taking some quiet time each day with God. Once a daily habit is established, I suspect people will find it easier to sit for longer periods.
Several comments suggested there might be some source of resistance to engaging in the prayer. Confronting resistance when it arises is difficult (kind of by definition), but I suggested it was worth taking some time in reflection to see if it might be possible to identify the source of the resistance.
Apart from difficulties in prayer, the other thing that came out of the discussion of the experience of praying with events from the life of Jesus is the challenge they present for us. That is, when one deeply engages in the scripture and reflects on what it has to say to us and our lives, we may find we are often guilty of the same sorts of things we can so easily criticize the subjects of various of the Gospel incidents – the people who walked away from Jesus’ teachings…those who denied him…those who were ready to cast stones at the woman caught in adultery…etc. When we, deeply engage in the scripture, rather than (as one participant put it) read them as thought they were simply stories, we are forced to ask some hard questions about the depth of our own discipleship.
After our discussion, I gave a brief talk to introduce this week’s prayer on the Seven Sorrows of Mary. You can stream the podcast from the icon below or can download it here. (The podcast runs for 13:38.) You can find a copy of this week’s prayer material on the Seven Sorrows here.